“The best part of the art of living is to know how to grow old gracefully.” ~ Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind …
As we get older, age tends to be something that many of us do not like to consider, let alone discuss. Yet despite our aversion towards it, and whether or not we care to acknowledge it, we all continue to age every day of our lives. And I have come to believe that our ignorance of this fact, and the lack of healthy discussion about it, often leads us to having more difficulty in accepting the truth that we are growing old, which in turn leads us towards an inability to “grow old gracefully,” as Eric puts it.
Perhaps you know someone who refuses to allow themselves to “grow gracefully” beyond a specific age–the individual who insists on dressing like they did as teenager or young adult, or who shirks the responsibilities of their present condition in life; or someone who continues to try to speak the same vernacular of their children and the much younger generations. My intentions are not to sound judgmental–for I was quite trendy myself during much of my young adult years–but to bring up the reality that most of these types of tendencies almost always make the older person look or sound somewhat silly, if not downright ridiculous. Yet despite this, some individuals are still unable or unwilling to accept the fact that they are indeed growing older, and try fruitlessly to demonstrate to others that they are not. Sadly, in doing so, most simply lose their own identity as they stop showing their authentic self and instead force out awkward and unrealistic actions.
We all tend to gravitate towards our peers and elders who are comfortable with themselves–those who are not trying to be something they are not. Because these individuals are growing old gracefully, they offer us a sense of balance–someone to look up to, something to aspire to as we age ourselves. For this reason, it is important that we offer to others–especially those who are younger than we are–a positive role model in the art of aging. This, of course, does not mean that we must resign ourselves to growing old, for there is fun to be had in the world no matter our age. In addition, as we grow and learn true appreciation, the possibility for fun simply multiplies.
Make it a goal in your life to grow old gracefully. And as you do so, allow it to be with limitless possibilities–with dignity, peace of mind and heart, a lot of fun, and acceptance of who we are and how we fit into the world.
Take a moment to reflect upon and celebrate your age today–research what others your age have done, tell a close friend how old you are, be open to the possibilities of the wisdom of the ages.
Questions to consider:
Some people are unable to grow old gracefully because they are bitter and angry at the world. What might they do to make their worlds more pleasant?
Why do some people have so much trouble accepting the fact that they are growing old?
How can we be sure that we are growing old gracefully? What are some of the most important indications?
For further thought:
“How can anyone be anything but their age? The trick is to love your age. Love it when you’re young and strong and foolish. Love it when you’re old and wise. Love it in the middle when the challenges come and you can solve some of them, maybe most of them. If you love your age, you’ll never go around wishing you were some other age.” ~ Arthur Gordon, Return to Wonder